Put down that copy of Tiger Beat, Justin Bieber fans, for the teenage songster's Twitter musings soon will be a matter of public record. The Library of Congress announced today--via Twitter, no less--that is acquiring the Twitter's entire archive through donation. Now I feel a lot of pressure to make my tweets as witty as possible.
Exact details are to come, but the archive will include all public tweets since March, 2006. And with 55 million tweets per day from 105 million registered users, that's a lot of social blabbering to preserve. Just think, once Library visitors tire of perusing the latest copy of the Congressional Record, they can research Courtney Love's looniest updates or remind themselves of the drunken tweets they sent last weekend.
Though the whole idea may sound bizarre, the Library already holds more than 167 terabytes of Web-based information, including legal blogs and Web sites for political candidates and current lawmakers. As Matt Raymond put it in the Library's official blog, the institution is emphasizing the scholarly and research implications of Twitter. "It boggles my mind to think what we might be able to learn about ourselves and the world around us from this wealth of data," he wrote. "And I'm certain we'll learn things that none of us now can even possibly conceive."
That's a bit over the top, but there's no doubting that Twitter has assumed a prominent role during natural disasters and political crises like the unrest following the 2009 Iranian election. Indeed, in its blog, Twitter said it decided to donate the archive after the Library determined that public tweets are "important and worthy of preservation."
Once the acquisition is finished, tweets will be available for internal Library use, non-commercial research, and public display by the Library. So, go ahead, continue tweeting about the health care bill or what you had for breakfast this morning, but take some care since your thoughts will be saved for posterity. Your grandchildren may thank you or they may just be embarrassed.